The Butchers Arms, Priors Hardwick

For this years Mothers Day 13 of us piled into the already busy Butchers Arms in Priors Hardwick (Warwickshire). It had been on my Granny’s list as a place to visit for a while so Mothers Day seemed like the perfect occasion to treat her. In total, our party had four Mothers to celebrate and being a family who love food, the Butchers Arm was a good place to come. From the exterior it seems like a traditional British pub, and it is to some extent… other than the fact that it is run by a Portuguese family and a few other things I shall mention… However, it truly is a family run pub with at least two generations waiting and chatting with guests.

There was a huge selection of starters. After settling on whitebait my Aunt declared that I must try something different. “I rather fancy some nice whitebait” I thought (in my head) but gave her the benefit of the doubt and chose Duck the Oriental Gressingham Duck Salad – two duck cakes served with sweet hoi sin sauce and tossed dressed leaves.

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I have been having a bit of a hankering for duck recently, however, I wish I had stuck with my initial choice and gone with the whitebait. Even more annoying was looking across the room (we had two tables because apparently it’s bad luck to had 13 people to one table) to see my Dad munching on a nice piece of whitebait looking very happy with himself. My brother had the same problem as me and we found the duck cakes to be quite dry, it really did need the sauce on the side… and more. However, everyone else was happy with their choices (especially Dad).

With it being Mothering Sunday there was a choice of a roast (chicken, lamb, beef, pork) and two fish dishes (sea bass and halibut). I went for the halibut which came with prawns, spinach, an asparagus creamy sauce and some delicious buttery potatoes. The asparagus seemed a little dull in colour but nevertheless tasted good. This was my first time having halibut so I would like to try it again before coming to a firm judgement but I couldn’t help but think it was a little dry.

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After delivering my fish, and for the rest of my family, their meat, potatoes and yorkshire puddings, waiters came round with carrots and broccoli, serving it straight onto our plates. I really liked this little touch and the waiters were really chatty and friendly. These veggies were buttery and cooked to perfection. I had a taste of my Aunts beef and it was delicious but the gravy was already served onto the plates and my cousin who only likes a little gravy was a tad disappointed.

Puddings was something else. A waitress reeled off pudding after pudding – probably around 10 in total – which were served straight from a pudding table in the centre of the room. Usually the puddings go round on a trolly but the pub was so crammed that it had to be stationary. I went for a simple plate of strawberries and cream, the strawberries were huge and I would have liked some clotted cream but the double cream served did the trick. Others had meringues with caramel and strawberries and some had traditional Portuguese puddings.

The pub has lots of seating areas, indoors and out for coffees after eating which was just what we needed to kick back and let the meal go down. Dotted around, on the walls were signed photos of celebrities who had popped by for a meal at the pub. There was a huge amount of them and from what I gather, people have a real connection to the family who run the pub. This really makes for a great atmosphere; the service was quick and friendly and the staff were passionate about the food. I would like to head back here soon to try the à la carte menu as they have some great fish dishes that I hope are as good as those served in Portugal.

I would recommend The Butchers Arms for a relaxed and friendly meal. Despite my reservations I will be returning to order that whitebait!!!

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The Cromwell Cottage, Kislingbury

The Cromwell is one of my favourite places to eat when I head home from Uni. I couldn’t possibly tell you about all the wonderful meals I have had here, I really would struggle to say anything bad about the place in general. It’s a great place to head to, whether it’s for a wonderful gastropub style meal or for a cosey drink by the fire in the winter or outside in the summer.

The menu is extensive and covers every craving you might have. The staff are all wonderful. The fact that many of their waiting and bar staff have been there for a while speaks volumes.

I can never turn down a starter at The Cromwell. They always have something (or a selection of things) that really takes my fancy. This time, as I am currently on a bit of a black pudding high, I went for Pork Belly with Black Pudding and Apple & Vanilla Puree.

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It was gone in approximately 5 seconds. Dad had the same and we gave each other a look of triumph as we ate. There is, after all, nothing better than knowing you have picked the right dish. The vanilla was a really nice touch. I was unsure at the start whether it would add anything to the dish but whilst subtle it made the dish really unique.

 

I must have been feeling lower on protein but next I had a beef burger with pulled pork on top. This is a new addition to the menu and the optional topping of pulled pork left my mind wandering. There was only one thing for it, I must eat it.

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A good portion of chips is always vital. I was not left disappointed. Skinny or chunky, The Cromwell knows how to make a good chip. On this occasion I would say the burger was a tad dry but the pulled pork and gherkins gave it that extra moisture. I was well and truly proteined out are this dish. My brother and Dad both had the sirloin steak. Anyone who knows my Dad will know that a steak is his go to dish on any menu. There is no competition when a steak can be fried up and popped on a plate so we didn’t need to ask what he was having for main.

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Dad, as usual, was happy with his decision to get a chunk of beef accompanied with chips and of course some pepper sauce. My brother however was slightly disappointed as he had a really grissly steak and found it really tough to cut through. With parents as beef farmers’ there was a process of investigation around the table concluding with Mum bringing it up with the waiter (because the rest of us are far too chicken). The waiter took the news back to the chef and then bought more news back to us. They decided to not charge us for my brothers steak… these things happen. We were more than happy with the way the waiter dealt with the complaint and apologised for my brothers bad luck. Dad meanwhile was polishing off his perfect steak.

 

Despite the grissly steak, once again we were happy customers. We are always greeted with wonderful waiting staff and our tummies full to the brim with hearty, tasty food. The Cromwell is definitely a must if you are stopping or driving through the Northamptonshire area.

 

Website: http://www.thecromwellcottagekislingbury.co.uk